This week’s episode of Arrow was all about the ladies, opening on an apparent mob hit that nearly took out Moira Queen before featuring the return of China White and the introduction of the Huntress. It was co-written by DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and moved more briskly than the previous six episodes.
“Muse of Fire” opens with Moira speaking outside her office building with a businessman – we soon learn he’s “mobbed up” – who gets shot by an assailant on a motorcycle. Oliver, who was arriving to take his mother to lunch, gives chase on foot but is unable to catch the mysterious attacker.
Sister Thea makes it clear she isn’t fond of all the obvious lying Oliver has been doing. Moira, who has plenty of secrets of her own, is much more sympathetic. Oliver tells Dig he plans to infiltrate the mob to locate the shooter — just before we in the audience caught our own glimpse: It’s a young woman!
The Tommy and Laurel storyline heats up this week, with Tommy still on his quest to move their old “friends with benefits” dynamic into true romance. He shows up at her apartment with takeout and asks her on a proper date, then dropped by the Queen mansion to let Oliver know he plans to date his ex. Later, at dinner Tommy’s credit card is denied by the restaurant. Later still, he confronts his father, who’s revealed to be … the mysterious Well-Dressed Man (John Barrowman) Moira’s been meeting with (he even pays a visit to a recuperating Moira to make sure she’s still down with his plans).
But back to the episode’s main storyline: Pretending to be interested in continuing some of his father’s old business dealings, Oliver goes to see mob boss Frank Bertinelli, who’s feeling the financial pinch from this unknown assassin taking out some of his top earners. We quickly learn that said assassin is Bertinelli’s daughter Helena, who’s ordered to go out to dinner with Oliver to help secure a lucrative Queen Consolidated contract for the family construction business. Helena is unimpressed, calling “the rich man’s Lindsey Lohan.” Snap!
Bertinelli of course doesn’t realize it’s his own daughter taking out his crew. He suspects the Chinese Triad and heads to a meeting with China White, who denies responsibility. Bertinelli threatens to wage war against them anyway.
Helena doesn’t try to hide her discomfort with her father during her dinner with Oliver; they touch upon his five-year Gilligan’s Island stint, and Helena divulges she had a fiancé, whom we later learn was killed by Bertinelli’s crew.
Dig calls Oliver with a tip that some of Bertinelli’s crew would soon arrive at the restaurant to wring more protection money out of the owner. Of course, when they show up they’re confronted by Arrow in full costume. But who else should appear but Huntress. OK, OK, she’s not in full costume but rather a motorcycle gear – at least until Arrow removes her helmet, discovering the identity of the assassin.
Detective Lance has been paying attention to the mob hits, which he thinks could escalate into an all-out war between Bertinelli’s crew and the Triad. Looking at videotape from the restaurant, he sees Oliver eating with Helena. Despite his bad blood with Oliver (let’s not forget his other daughter was on that boat five years ago), Detective Lance warns him to stay away from Helena. Oliver is undeterred, of course; he’s got his mission.
He catches up with Helena in a cemetery where she’s visiting her fiancé’s grave. A van pulls up, and Bertinelli’s men snatch up Oliver and Helena, whisking them away to a warehouse. Helena admits she’s the one taking out her father’s associates, and Bertinelli’s right-hand man (played by Tahmoh Penikett of Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse) reveals he’s the one who killed her fiancé after uncovering that he’d been talking to the FBI. It turns out, however, that Helena was the one building a case against her father.
Oliver and Helena manage to break free, and begin taking out their captors. Helena saves Penikett’s character until last, and snaps his neck. By the time the cops arrive, Oliver and Helena are gone, leaving behind what appears to be the first stage in the war with the Triad.
Thankfully, the show’s writers didn’t insult Helena’s intelligence (or ours) by keeping her in the dark about Arrow: After that big brawl, the next time the two meet, they talk openly about having figured out each other’s secrets. She points out that both of their fathers have done evil and that their missions are very similar. Oliver attempts his withdrawn/loner bit for a minute, but a steamy kiss takes care of that.
What will the future hold for the development of the Helena Bertinelli character and her relationship with Oliver? Will Tommy’s money problems, feelings for Laurel and shady dad lead to a falling out with Oliver, giving us a villainous Merlyn? And will we see Kelly Hu in action as China White some more soon?